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Updated by seattledivorceservices on Dec 11, 2020
Headline for Divorce in Washington: Five Things You Need to Know
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Divorce in Washington: Five Things You Need to Know

Making the decision to divorce is a difficult choice and it often brings a host of considerations into play: What will happen to your children and your home? How will you ensure you receive adequate support beyond the marriage? How will all of your assets be divided? Read on to get the answers you need and more.


Can I get a divorce if I’m involved in a domestic partnership?

Not every couple can file for divorce. A couple must be married or in a registered domestic partnership to file for divorce. However, most domestic partnerships were converted by the state to marriages in 2014. Instead of divorce, the couple can also file for a legal separation. Other cohabiting couples will need to talk to an attorney about what kind of court proceeding they can file.


How will the marital assets be divided?

Washington is considered a community property state, meaning that all assets acquired during the marriage will be considered joint property of the spouses and divided equitably. While the courts do allow and even encourage couples to negotiate the terms of their asset distribution outside of the courtroom, understanding that the state prioritizes equitable distribution certainly gives each spouse some pretty compelling leverage. Bear in mind, however, that debt is also considered to be part of a marriage’s property. Other property that is subject to division in a divorce proceeding includes the marital home, retirement funds, business interests, cash, insurance policies, credit card and other debt, and any art, antiquities, or other valuables.


Will my spouse’s misconduct be taken into account?

If your divorce is the product of infidelity or other such misconduct, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll be given the upper hand in your divorce proceeding. Courts in Washington do not consider marital misconduct relevant to the divorce proceeding, and therefore a wronged spouse will not necessarily be entitled to a larger share of the marital assets or absolute custody of their children.


Who will get custody of my child?

As with the marital property, child custody is also something that is largely left to the couple to decide. The couple will create what is called a parenting plan, which will include very specific details as to who has the child when and how that child will be transported between the two parties. The parenting plan will also delineate how any future disputes regarding the child’s welfare will be resolved. Once the divorcing parents complete their parenting plan, the court will determine whether the plan meets the best interests of the child and allocates primary responsibility to the appropriate parent.


Will I definitely receive alimony?

Alimony awards are usually determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the financial circumstances of the divorcing parties. The court will take several factors into account when determining whether alimony is appropriate, including the length of the marriage, the income and earning capacity of each spouse, the age and health of each spouse, and more.